- 1 Sep 06, 06:13 PM
Firstly apologies to those who've responded to the blog and not received a reply. My excuse is a very busy summer of sport, annual leave and a broken ankle!
I will now try to answer as many of your comments as possible.
You ask why we are decreasing our racing coverage - primarily we are being reactive to our audiences. The number of people watching racing on television has declined. Viewers now have massive choice. We need to react to their changing demands or they switch off or over.
We have dropped what we consider a number of weaker meetings, those meetings which have seen the most acute decline in recent years.
I clearly haven't convinced you but we continue to be committed to racing and will continue (subject to future rights negotiation) to televise 36 race meetings/days.
Of these 10 are racing's crown jewel events from Aintree, Ascot and Epsom.
In addition, we are hoping to be doing a further 26 meetings/days as part of a year-round commitment to the sport. We recognise the importance that these other meetings have in satisfying our racing audience as well as building to and complimenting our coverage of the major meetings.
Although reduced from previous years this remains a significant investment which many other sports would view with envy.
You asked if we were in danger of losing the rights to Aintree, Epsom and Ascot. Please be assured they remain at the heart of our sports portfolio and we will vigorously defend our ownership of the rights.
Can I also reiterate that we were keen to cover the Glorious meeting after our contract had expired in 2006. However, it appears Goodwood will be part of a wider C4 total racing deal.
Thank you for your points re: collaboration. We are looking at the possibility of extending our racing coverage on other BBC digital channels and via Interactive.
You asked if double-headers were no longer part of our future strategy - we haven't changed our policy, although the difficulty of co-ordinating the calendar in 2006 has meant fewer double-headers in comparison with 2005.
We are very much hoping this problem will be resolved in 2007.
You mention that we need to show a commitment to minority sports.
By the end of 2006 we will have transmitted 70 hours of racing coverage on network TV during the year.
A small reduction in this will allow us to show a larger range of sports. What about the likes of cycling, swimming, gymnastics - all mass participation sports who are clambering for more coverage and air time.
Showing a wider range of sports is something that is part of our Public Service remit. We need to appeal to all audiences.
Dear Gary and Alan
Re: your reference to C4's shaky commitment to racing - they have also been impacted by the decline in the those wanting to watch racing on TV. It's an issue for all mainstream broadcasters.
I'm sure there are other points that I haven't addressed as fully as you all would like, but I hope I've gone some way to answering your comments - and getting the hang of this blog thing! (I'll be back on Monday)
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